Our Life in Sweden

Jonathan & Sofia Morgan

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Things we’ve learned

This year we have some big changes ahead of us, which we’ll fill you in on in another blog post. All this talk of change got us reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned in the two and a half years since we left Europe. Here are some of the big ones:

Coaching vs Handouts

One of the big assumptions that we westerners make about the majority world is that they just need more stuff (money, clothes, etc). Oftentimes these places are rich in resources but poor in education and good leadership. Coaching encourages people to ask ‘what do I have’ instead of ‘what do I lack?’ and sets them on a course towards seeing themselves as agents of change.

Work yourself out of a job

It’s challenging to be surrounded by so much need and it’s easy to start to think that you are the answer, especially when you might have been privileged with education, experience and skills. We’ve learned that if you want to see lasting change, it’s better to go slow and make sure you pass on your knowledge to someone who’s going to be around long after your visa expires. Preferably someone from the community who speaks the language and knows the culture.

Never stop learning

When working in a culture that’s not our own we’ve realized it’s important to have the attitude of a learner. That means asking questions more than you try to give answers. It also means spending a lot of time hanging out with people, although it doesn’t always feel “productive.” One of the things we wish we’d done from day 1 is to have learned one of the local languages. Doing this would have helped us build deeper relationships and understand the culture better.

Bottom-up change

The best, most long lasting change is bottom-up, rather than top-down. It’s when people and communities take responsibility for the neighbours and circumstances around them. Top-down change is about coercion, about doing something because there’s a rule that says “you must…” Bottom-up change encourages communities to grow. It draws out leaders on a micro level.

Servant leadership

We’ve already touched on it a little, but our favourite type of leadership is servant leadership. It’s no mistake that Jesus told his disciples that the one who wants to be first should be the servant of all. He knew that leading through humility, through putting others first, has power. It speaks into people’s hearts rather than just their sense of obligation.

Have fun

It felt as if we moved to Kommetjie just at the right time. A hectic work season, intense house situation as well as having lived in a township – where you can’t escape the harshness of poverty, all got too much for us. Our surfing friends here inspired us to enjoy life to it’s full and we realized that we couldn’t sustain our work if we didn’t have an outlet. Now we try to look for fun and adventure wherever we go.

Pray a lot

We’ve prayed a lot more this year for the things that have been on our hearts. It’s been a wild journey and we’ve re-learned that change happens when we pray with passion. Although we’ve seen many answered prayers, circumstances changed dramatically, the best lesson has been that we’ve experienced a change inside of ourselves – new perspectives, clarity, peace, hope and joy have all come as a result of praying. God is good!


We took a trip

Hello world!

We are still here!

We just came back from a trip to the Middle East! The refugees of Syria have been on our hearts and minds for quite some time now, so we decided to go for a visit, to explore the possibilities for being involved. We had the great privilege of meeting many Syrian families face-to-face and to hear their stories. We also met with churches and organizations that carry out relief work in the region.

It was a great time of networking and connecting, and we have come away with a better idea of how to pray for those impacted by the crisis, and with some options of how to get involved practically.

Below is a photo of one of our favorite moments when we had a day with Heart For Lebanon, an organization caring for refugees in the Bekaa Valley, 30 km east of Beirut. Many of the refugees who have fled Syria have ended up there, in small camps of 40-60 families. We visited makeshift schools that had been set up to help the Syrian children stay on track in their education, as well as some food distributions. While the food parcels were handed out to the families many children came up to us, eager to get our attention, wanting to play. They were quick to teach us games so that we would interact with them. It was amazing to see that despite the circumstances the creativity and play was still alive in these kids. Saying goodbye to these sweet little faces was hard.

Skärmavbild 2013-11-25 kl. 15.38.36

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Hallå världen! Vi lever fortfarande! Vi kom precis tillbaka ifrån en resa till Mellanöstern. Vi har tänkt på Syrens flyktingar i över ett år nu, så vi bestämde oss för att åka och träffa några av dem och för att utforska möjligheter till att hjälpa till. Vi hade den stora äran att träffa många familjer från Syrien som lyckats fly landet. Vi träffade också flera kyrkor och hjälporganisationer som utför katastrofarbete i regionen.

Det var en mycket lyckad resa, full av nätverkande och inspirerande möten. Resan gav oss också en bättre förståelse för hur vi kan fortsätta be för dem som är drabbade av krisen och ideer för hur vi praktiskt kan vara involverade i framtiden.

Nedan ser ni ett foto på några av barnen vi träffade när vi hälsade på organisationen Heart for Lebanon, som stöttar flera Syriska familjer som flytt till Bekaadalen i Libanon. Vi besökte provisoriska skolor som satts upp så att barnen från Syrien kunde fortsätta deras utbildning och var med vid utdelningen av matpaket i några av de mindre flyktinglägren (ca 40 – 60 familjer i varje läger).Vid utdelningen sprang en stor grupp med barn fram till oss och ville lära oss olika lekar så vi kunde leka med dem. Det var underbart att se hur kreativitet och lek fortfarande var levande hos barnen, trots de tragiska omständigheterna. Det var sorgligt att säga hej då till dessa små oskyldiga ansikten, hoppas vi ser dem igen!

The power of Vulnerability

A few friends of ours here in Kommetjie are learning about how to do community well together. How to have deeper friendships and how to grow in our faith.

The TED talk speaks of vulnerability as the pathway to belonging and creativity, and has really inspired us:

The Power of Vulnerability

The Thomson Method

Thomson Method

The last couple of months we’ve been meeting regularly with one of our Somalian friends to teach her English. It’s been SO much fun! We’ve had lots of laughter due to misunderstandings and lots of joy in seeing how much this means to her and how useful it is. Unfortunately she hasn’t been able to learn English before as she looks after the shop, which is also the main income of the family. We use a method called The Thomson Method, that emphasizes interaction between the learner and teacher and initially only uses pictures and words to build up the language. We studied Xhosa this way and have a few friends who in a short space of time learned Arabic through this method.


De senaste månaderna har vi umgåtts en hel del med en av våra vänner från Somalia och försökt lära henne engelska. Det hela har varit en riktigt rolig upplevelse men många skratt bl a pga en hel del missförstånd. Tyvärr har hon inte haft möjligheten att lära sig engelska eftersom hon måste ta hand om affären som också utgör hela familjens huvudinkomst. Vi har använt oss av en metod som heter Thomsonmetoden, som bygger på bildassociation – man bygger upp sitt ordförråd genom bilderna man får lära sig. Vi provade lära oss Xhosa på detta sättet och känner några som lärt sig Arabiska på detta sätt.





Good News

Maria & Abdullaai Analog

So I realised we didn’t give you the full update of what happened to the Somalian family that we wrote about a while back. In 2008 there was xenophobic violence in Masiphumelele, and elsewhere in SA, that saw many Somalians and Ethiopians temporarily flee the townships. Our friends stayed with a couple in All Nations, with whom they became great friends. As a result of the violence, the UN decided that it was too dangerous for them to remain in Masiphumelele and helped them to secure asylum in the US.

In July this year they were finally approved asylum. They were nervous as they didn’t know where in the states they’d be placed. They knew they would be leaving family and friends who they may never see again. We all prayed that they would be placed somewhere where we would have friends to connect them with. Their friends from 2008 are now back in the states and kindly offered to fly to see them wherever they were placed.

Amazingly they ended up actually being placed in the same city, just 5 minutes away from this family! When we heard the news, none of us could really believe it! I remember Abdullaai (husband of the family) phoning us shouting with joy ‘It’s amazing, God is good! God is good!’

This is indeed good news!

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För ett tag sedan skrev vi ett inlägg (klicka här för att läsa igen!). om våra vänner från Somalia och jag insåg precis att vi inte berättade för er hur det gick för dem tillslut. En bekant i All Nations hade denna familjen inneboende hos sig under några veckors tid 2008, i väntan på att de främlingsfientliga våldsamheterna, som spritt sig som en löpeld i flera av landets kåkstäder, skulle lugna ner sig. FN har beslutat att det inte är tillräckligt tryggt för dem att bo kvar i Sydafrikas kåkstäder och har försökt hjälpa dem få asyl i ett annat land.

I juli detta året fick de äntligen besked om att de fått uppehållstillstånd i USA! De var såklart överlyckliga men samtidigt nervösa och ledsna då de en en gång flyttar till ett främmande land och måste lämna nära familjemedlemmar som de kanske aldrig kommer träffa igen. Tillsammans bad vi att de skulle få bli placerade i en stad där vi känner någon som de kan lära känna och känna sig trygga med. Familjen de var inneboende hos 2008 har flyttat tillbaka till USA och lovade att flyga och välkomna dem, oavsett vilken stat de blev placerade i, för att se till att de blir väl bemötta och omhändertagna.

Otroligt nog blev våra vänner placerade i samma stad som denna familj, bara 5 minuter ifrån deras hus! Ingen av oss kunde riktigt tro att det var sant! Jag minns hur Abdullaai, maken i familjen, ringde oss så fort de fått beskedet och tjöt av glädje: ‘It’s amazing! God is good! God is good!’



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